[Published 6 March 2016]
Marco Rubio has directly challenged Hillary Clinton — and every other Presidential candidate — to honour the commitments given by President Bush to Israel on 14 April 2004.
Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum Rubio said:
“I will revive the common-sense understandings reached in the 2004 Bush-Sharon letter and build on them to help ensure Israel has defensible borders,”
President Bush’s letter — overwhelmingly endorsed by the Congress — supported Israel’s proposed unilateral disengagement from Gaza - stating:
“As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”
Israel’s Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - who succeeded Sharon - had neither forgotten nor overlooked the critical significance of Bush’s commitments when agreeing to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority before an international audience of world leaders at Annapolis on 27 November 2007:
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the road map and the April 14, 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.”
It didn’t take too long thereafter for these Presidential commitments to be downplayed by Bush himself and his advisors.
In an editorial - published on 14 May 2008 - former Jerusalem Post editor - David Horovitz - revealed Bush’s shameful efforts to minimize the letter’s significance - following Bush’s meeting with a group of Israeli journalists at the White House:
“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, however, has been known to minimize the significance of this four-year-old letter. Just last week, for instance, she told reporters that the 2004 letter “talked about realities at that time. And there are realities for both sides….”
... Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has also given briefings to the effect that Israel had tried to overstate the importance of a rather vague letter…
“Bush did not at first realize that I was referring to the 2004 letter. Hadley, who was also in the Oval Office, had to prompt him. “Okay, the letters,” the president then said, remembering.”
Bush was clearly reneging on his unequivocal commitments to Israel just six months after Olmert sought to rely on them.
Israel by then had already paid a high price - Gaza having become a de facto terrorist State with Hamas firmly entrenched as Gaza’s governing authority. Israel had been subjected to a sustained barrage of thousands of rockets and mortars fired indiscriminately into Israeli population centres from Gaza by a bewildering variety of terrorist groups and sub-groups who would have had no chance of operating so freely from Gaza if the Israeli Army had remained there.
President Obama has also disgracefully attempted to subvert his predecessor’s commitments for the last seven years - aided and abetted by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who reportedly laid the groundwork on 6 June 2009:
“Since coming to office in January, President Barack Obama has repeatedly called on Israel to halt all settlement activity in Palestinian areas, a demand rejected by the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israelis say they received commitments from the previous US administration of President George W. Bush permitting some growth in existing settlements.
They say the US position was laid out in a 2004 letter from Bush to then Israeli premier Ariel Sharon.
Clinton rejected that claim, saying any such US stance was informal and “did not become part of the official position of the United States government.”
Clinton — doubling as Obama’s attack dog — made Obama’s sinister intentions clearer on 25 November 2009:
“We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”
Clinton’s blatant disregard of Bush’s commitments - which had never mentioned “agreed swaps” - signaled trouble for Israel if Obama indeed confirmed Clinton’s statements.
Eighteen months later Israel’s worst fears were realised when Obama declared on 19 May 2011:
“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Michael Oren — former Israeli Ambassador to Washington between 2009 and 2013 — has called for Bush’s commitments to be resuscitated:
.. it’s time to revive the Bush-Sharon letter and act according to it.”
Rubio has to his credit so reacted.
Motherhood-statements supporting Israel by the remaining candidates vying to become America’s next President pale into insignificance compared to Rubio’s coming out and pledging to honour Bush’s Congress-endorsed commitments to Israel.
Clinton - and for that matter Sanders, Trump, Cruz and Kasich - must do likewise - or allow America’s reputation as a trustworthy and reliable ally to be forever trashed.